The novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis has certainly affected businesses, but it has also had an impact on gender equality at the workplace, according to participants in a webinar organised on Thursday by the Institute for Gender Equality.
Generally, men have telecommuted as much as women, according to the Institute’s spokesperson, Veronique De Baets. On the other hand, specific measures taken to support workers are more “gendered”, she noted.
Baets cited the example of the Corona parental holiday, which has been more popular among women. In May 2020, 67% of its beneficiaries were women. That proportion kept increasing since then and in August it was 78%.
COVID-19 has also had an influence on employment, according to the Vrije Universiteit Brussel’s TOR research group. Due to telecommuting, employees have been spending more time at home, which has modified the organisation of housework, with men devoting slightly more time to it.
Women have reduced the amount of time spent on household work, but mostly because some tasks they usually carried out no longer needed to be done, such as taking the children to school, according to researcher Theun Pieter van Tienoven.
However, the way employees organise their remunerated work has not changed significantly. Most have continued to work from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., although some male workers work in the evening between 7 p.m. and 8 p.m.
“Care needs to be taken to ensure that the anti-COVID measures do not widen the gender gap,” Véronique De Baets stressed. The Institute wants the measures assessed against the background of gender inequality.